Pacifications of villages in German-occupied Poland

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Razing of villages in occupied Poland
Polish men led to execution (1939 closeup).jpg
Execution of Polish hostages by German soldiers in September 1939 outside pacified village
Pacifications
Period 1939 – 1945
Territory General Government, Pomorze, Bezirk Bialystok, Greater Poland, Kresy

The pacifications of villages in German-occupied Poland during World War II were one of many punitive measures designed to inflict terror on a civilian population with the use of military and police force.[1] They were an integral part of the war of aggression against the Polish nation waged by Nazi Germany since September 1, 1939. The projected goal of pacification operations was to prevent and suppress the Polish resistance movement in World War II nevertheless, among the victims were children as young as 1.5 year old, women, fathers attempting to save their families, farmers rushing to rescue livestock from burning buildings, patients, victims already wounded, and hostages of all ethnicities including Poles and Jews.[1][2]

War crimes committed during pacification actions in occupied Poland were probed by the Central Office of Justice in Ludwigsburg (West Germany) in September 1959 and in accordance with the German Criminal Code (§ 78/3 pt. 2, and § 212) ultimately thrown out as already expired due to German statutes of limitations.[1] No further investigations were conducted until June 1971 when the 1939 crimes of the 1st Panzer Division in Poland (Polenfeldzug) were also thrown out as unlikely after statement by Major Walther Wenck, which was accepted on good faith. The enquires by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance into massacres in specific locations are ongoing.[1] Historical data collected in Poland confirms the complete destruction of 554,000 farms valued at 6.062 million złoty (1938 level) with 8 million dead cattle and horses, on top of terrible human losses.[3]

Background[edit]

Polish villagers killed by the German police near Radom, occupied Poland, 1943.[4]

The so-called "pacification operations" were introduced along with all other extermination policies directed against Poland already in September 1939, and were of a large scale, resulting in the confirmed murder of approximately 20,000 villagers. Massacres were conducted in the areas of General Government, Pomorze, and in the vicinities of Białystok and Greater Poland. The number of Polish settlements targeted in these operations is approximately 825. The regular German army conducted 760 mass executions during their march across central Poland. Material losses from wonton destruction of Polish countryside unrelated to military maneuvers are estimated at 30 million złoty in the area of General Government alone.[5]

Notably, the pacification actions were conducted also in the eastern Kresy regions re-captured from the USSR in 1941, including in the Polesie Voivodeship, Nowogródek Voivodeship and others, comprising most of contemporary West Belarus. These tactics were the main local means of the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Some 627 villages were razed in eastern Poland by the SS with the help of collaborationist battalions including Belarusian, Ukrainian and others, during 60 pacification and 80 punitive operations there.[6] Collective punishment was used during such operations to discourage offering shelter to Jews or Soviet POWs, and providing aid to any guerilla forces. Pacifications included the extermination of entire villages including women and children, expulsions, the burning of homes, confiscation of private property, and arrests. In many instances these operations were characterized by extreme brutality. An example of such behaviour is the burning alive of 81 civilians and the shooting of 15 others in the village of Jabłoń-Dobki.

The first pacifications were conducted on the ground by Wehrmacht officers and soldiers, and took place in Złoczew on September 3 and 4, 1939, in which the German soldiers murdered some 200 Poles.

Pacification of Michniów, July 12–13, 1943; massacre of 204 inhabitants: 102 men, 54 women and 48 children.[7]

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance has documented the use of military force with the goal of suppressing Polish resistance. One example was a reprisal action by units of the XIX Panzer Corps taken for the operations of the Suwalska Cavalry Brigade. During the evening of 13 September 1939 thirteen people from Olszewo and ten people from the nearby village of Pietkowo were killed. The victims among the villagers include women and children who were murdered in several ways, such as stabbing by bayonets, shooting, being blown apart by grenades, and being burned alive in a barn.[8]

According to article by Witold Kulesza published in "Komentarze Historyczne" by the Institute of National Remembrance, German Regiment SS-Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" of the 17th Division arrived in Złoczew on September 3, 1939 on motorcycles and on bicycles. The burning of the village and mass killings began the same night. According to eye-witness Janina Modrzewska, who survived the pacification of Złoczew, the soldiers were killing everyone they saw. Total casualties amounted to 200 dead victims.[1] From the air, Luftwaffe planes bombed the villages of Momoty Dolne, Momoty Górne, Pawłów, Tokary, Sochy and Klew. Some places were subjected to multiple pacification operations. In the town of Aleksandrów in Biłgoraj County between 1939 and 1944, German authorities murdered 290 civilians (444 according to WIEM), wounded 43, deported 434 to forced labour camps, and burned at least 113 households.

At least 750 villages had at least 10 inhabitants murdered, and at least 75 villages were destroyed completely (see: table for partial list of names of villages and the number of dead victims).[a] Modern international law considers these types of actions against civilians to constitute genocide, whether conducted within national boundaries or in occupied territories.[9]

Villages and dead victims[edit]

Investigations by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance into pacifications of specific villages focus on locations within contemporary Poland. They are exponentially greater within the prewar borders of the Republic.[10]

Village name Killed Village name Killed Village name Killed
Borów 232 (103 children) Cyców 111 Jamy 147
Kaszyce 117 Kitów 174 Krasowo-Częstki 257 (83 children)
Krusze 148 Kulno 100 Lipniak-Majorat over 370
Łążek 187 Michniów 204 (48 children)[7] Milejów 150
Mrozy over 100 Olszanka 103 Rajsk over 143
Różaniec circa 200 Skłoby 265 Smoligów circa 200
Sochy 183 Sumin 118 Szczecyn 368 (71 children)
Wanaty 109 Zamość 470 Szczebrzeszyn 208
Łabunie 210 Krasnobród 285 (200 Jews)[11] Mokre 304
Nielisz 301 Nowa Osada 195 Radecznica 212
Skierbieszów 335 Stary Zamość 287 Suchowola 324
Sułów 252 Tereszpol 344 Wysokie 203
Zwierzyniec 412 Kitów 165 Królewiec / Szałas over 100 each

The number of pacified villages within the borders of postwar Poland was arranged by the IPN according to one of Poland's eleven voivodeships (administrative regions) which were not a part of Nazi Germany upon the 1939 invasion of Poland. Likewise, all settlements presently within the borders of post-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus are excluded from the list. The number of pacified villages for each of the voivodeships is as follows.[12]

  1. Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship: 29
  2. Lubelskie Voivodeship: 103
  3. Łódzkie Voivodeship: 26
  4. Małopolskie Voivodeship: 24
  5. Podkarpackie Voivodeship: 21
  6. Podlaskie Voivodeship: 34
  7. Pomorskie Voivodeship: 6
  8. Śląskie Voivodeship: 15
  9. Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship: 53
  10. Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship: 2
  11. Wielkopolskie Voivodeship: 26

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In his article for the peer-reviewed journal Komentarze Historyczne, Marcin Markiewicz from the Institute of National Remembrance wrote that in September 1939 alone, with no connection with military manoeuvres, Wehrmacht razed to the ground 30 villages in Bielsko, Masovian, Suwalki and Lomza Voivodeships, while 19 villages were pacified and burned in Bialystok Voivodeship. The most brutal were the pacifications and killings in the villages of Wyliny Rus, Drogoszewo, Rutki and Pietraszki, where the Germans were shooting children and the elderly.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Witold Kulesza, Vice-president of GKBZPNP – IPN (February 2007). "ZBRODNIE WEHRMACHTU W POLSCE – WRZESIEŃ 1939" (PDF file, direct download 1.02 MB, Internet Archive). Bulletin of the Institute of National Remembrance 08­-09 / 2004. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Aneks do Informacji o działalności Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej – Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu" (PDF file, direct download 1.48 MB). Załączniki. IPN. Warszawa, luty 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Antoni Kura, Główna Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu (2014). "Prawne aspekty ścigania sprawców zbrodni dokonanych na mieszkańcach wsi polskich w latach II wojny światowej". Zbrodnie bez przedawnienia (War crimes without statute of limitation). Martyrologia wsi polskich.pl. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Source: IPN, Muzeum Wsi Kieleckiej. 
  4. ^ Józef Fajkowski, Jan Religa (1981). Zbrodnie hitlerowskie na wsi polskiej 1939-1945. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Książka i Wiedza. 
  5. ^ Jerzy Gapys, Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach (2014). "Pacyfikacje i eksterminacja wsi polskiej na terenie Generalnego Gubernatorstwa". Eksterminacja wsi. Martyrologia wsi polskich.pl. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Source: IPN, Muzeum Wsi Kieleckiej. 
  6. ^ Eugeniusz Mironowicz (2014). "Okupacja niemiecka na Białorusi" [German occupation of Belarus]. History of Belarus, mid 18th century until the 20th century (Historia Białorusi od połowy XVIII do XX w.) (in Polish and Bielarussian). Związek Białoruski w RP, Katedra Kultury Białoruskiej Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku (Internet Archive). Retrieved 12 July 2014.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  7. ^ a b Pacification of Michnów at the Muzeum Wsi Kieleckiej (Kielce Regional Folk Museum) (Polish)
  8. ^ Represje hitlerowskie wobec wsi Bialostockiej, Marcin Markiewicz, Polish IPN bulletin nr.35-36 (Polish)
  9. ^ See: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Definition.
  10. ^ IPN (2014). "Miejsca związane z martyrologią wsi polskich (Places of Martyrology in Polish Villages)". Rejestr miejsc i faktów zbrodni. Martyrologia wsi polskich.pl. Retrieved 6 September 2014. Map of Martyrology per each Voivodeship. 
  11. ^ Lucyna Cabaj, Wydawnictwo Fotpress w Zamościu (2013). Krasnobród: Dzieje Miasta (PDF file, direct download). Miejsko-Gminna Biblioteka Publiczna w Krasnobrodzie. pp. 8–9. 
  12. ^ IPN (2014). "Miejsca związane z martyrologią wsi polskich (Places of Martyrology in Polish Villages)". Rejestr miejsc i faktów zbrodni. Martyrologia wsi polskich.pl. Retrieved 6 September 2014. Number of points of Martyrology per each Voivodeship. 

External links[edit]